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NFL Hard Count Episode 18-9: Drew Brees, league resilience and the pride of Hobart

Thoughts and opinions stemming from Week 5 in the National Football League

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on a bye last week as was Chicago. But the rest of the league was in action. Here are my thoughts and opinions stemming from what we saw Week 5 while Dirk Koetter was golfing.

OFFSIDES: Drew Brees’ escape from L.A. (Well, San Diego)

How excited would any franchise be to have the NFL’s all-time leading passer. There are other great quarterbacks out there, sure, but nobody has thrown a football for as many miles as Drew Brees has.

Kind of makes you go back and think about what the Chargers could have been thinking when they set the table for Brees’ eventual departure from San Diego.

Well, this is exactly what happened to me, so I googled it. What I found was a pretty good description of how everything went down from John Gennaro written for SB Nation’s Bolts From The Blue.

I’ll let you read the details at your leisure, but let’s basically summarize this by saying Brees ended up leaving San Diego and landing in New Orleans because of an end of year shoulder injury suffered because Marty Schottenheimer didn’t want to play Philip Rivers out of principle.

Then, when Brees got hurt, nobody wanted to pay him or promise him a starting job, but the Saints eventually did promise the starting job. Boom, Brees goes to the Saints, punts are blocked, onside kicks are recovered and now:

Cinderella, and it hasn’t hit midnight just yet.

Gennaro basically argues that letting Brees walk was actually a really good decision - or at least one which made sense. And he’s right.

But I have the power of hindsight, and I’m going to use it.

The bad decision made in San Diego wasn’t letting Brees go, it was drafting Rivers in the first place. Oh, wait. It was drafting Eli Manning, in the first place.

I’m not going to get crazy in-depth N-if-L style here, but if the Chargers don’t draft Manning out of spite, then they likely draft either Robert Gallery, Larry Fitzgerald or Sean Taylor. Or they trade out all together.

Players like DeAngelo Hall, Will Smith, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson and Ben Watson were all first round picks in 2004. Any of them could have been Chargers. And any of them could have changed the trajectory of their own careers by getting drafted by San Diego as well as Brees’.

But what about the injury? Well, there’s no guarantee the injury happens. Now, I’m not going to get into butterfly effect stuff and destiny and all of that.

I basically wrote all of this to say:

Congratulations, Drew! I’m not happy about the team you play for, but I’m truly happy to see you accomplish everything you have against the odds you’ve done them against.

FALSE START: The NFL is failing.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Many predicted the downfall of the National Football League. No doomsday clock was set, but it was happening. The beginning of the end.

TV ratings seem kind of like stock markets. It’s a long game. Today, you may lose some pennies, but tomorrow you may gain some nickels. Just stick it out.

Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, the league’s viewership is actually climbing for the first time in three seasons.

Why? Well, in part by the same rule which has had most of the fans watching up in arms for weeks now.

For the last two weeks we’ve seen a shift in the way officials call the new roughing the passer penalty, and for good reason. If anything was threatening the legitimacy of the league, it was that.

Apparently though, it will not do what CTE, domestic violence and social injustice before it couldn’t do, and that’s kill the league.

As the article mentions, young faces like Patrick Mahomes are lighting up the score boards while team strife like those being experienced with the Pittsburgh Steelers are giving some new teams opportunities they haven’t had in a little while.

The resurgence of the Cleveland Browns - sort of - can’t hurt either.

Bottom line, the NFL is fine, for now. We’ll have to wait and see what the next controversy does though.

FREE PLAY: I wish they all could be Ali Marpets.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made Ali Marpet a very well paid man.

If you ask me, Marpet deserves to be paid higher up the chain. But you didn’t, and neither did the Bucs. Which is fine.

Since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Marpet has played three different positions, and has showed Pro Bowl potential in all three.

If you could build a team of guys with Marpet’s ability to learn and re-learn, and rise above his challenges, you’d win a lot of rings and trophies.

When I saw the news break across my phone screen, I literally let out a celebratory cheer. Not only is he critical to any kind of continued success the Bucs hope to have, he just seems like the kind of guy you want to be around and want on your team.

Hawaiian shirts and tacos, folks. Those are the keys to a happy life.